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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Concussion (Traumatic Brain Injury)

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What Are the Signs of a Concussion? continued...

Concussions are fairly common. Some estimates say a mild brain trauma is sustained every 21 seconds in the U.S. But it's important to recognize the signs of a concussion so you can take the proper steps to treat the injury.

There are some common physical, mental, and emotional symptoms a person may display following a concussion. Any of these could be a sign of traumatic brain injury:

  • confusion or feeling dazed
  • clumsiness
  • slurred speech
  • nausea or vomiting
  • headache
  • balance problems or dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light
  • sensitivity to noise
  • sluggishness
  • ringing in ears
  • behavior or personality changes
  • concentration difficulties
  • memory loss

Are There Different Types of Concussions?

Concussions are graded as mild (grade 1), moderate (grade 2), or severe (grade 3), depending on such factors as loss of consciousness, amnesia, and loss of equilibrium.

In a grade 1 concussion, symptoms last for less than 15 minutes. There is no loss of consciousness.

With a grade 2 concussion, there is no loss of consciousness but symptoms last longer than 15 minutes.

In a grade 3 concussion, the person loses consciousness, sometimes just for a few seconds.

What Should I Do if I Have a Concussion?

The seriousness of a concussion dictates what kind of treatment you should seek. Most people with concussions fully recover with appropriate treatment. But because a concussion can be serious, safeguarding yourself is important. Here are a few steps to take:

  • Seek medical attention. A health care professional can decide how serious the concussion is and whether you require treatment. If you have suffered a grade 1 or grade 2 concussion, wait until symptoms are gone before returning to normal activities. That could take several minutes, hours, days, or even a week.

If you have sustained a grade 3 concussion, see a doctor immediately for observation and treatment. A doctor will ask how the head injury happened and discuss the symptoms. The doctor may also ask you simple questions such as "Where do you live?," "What is your name?" or "Who is the president?" The doctor asks these questions to evaluate memory and concentration skills.

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